“Let us remember now and forever that hospitals are people …”
Andrew J. Signorelli, MD, founder of Faith Hospital
If you ask a Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital patient why it’s their hospital of choice, they’ll say things like — it feels like home, you get exceptional care from a great staff and it’s peaceful and welcoming. If you ask an employee why they enjoy working at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, they often say it’s like a family.
Those reasons are reminiscent of what Andrew Signorelli, MD, wanted for the first hospital he opened in 1937 known as Faith Hospital. Fast-forward more than 75 years, and Dr. Signorelli’s vision is still felt at the former Faith Hospital, now Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital.
As a physician and Italian immigrant, Dr. Signorelli recognized the need for a hospital in St. Louis where Italian-speaking residents could feel comfortable and receive the best medical care. Dr. Signorelli bought the former American Hospital building located at Taylor and Maffitt and in 1937 opened the 35-bed Faith Hospital.
Although Dr. Signorelli and his wife, Lily, were living with his parents and raising children, he chose to invest in a hospital rather than buy a house, says Terry Signorelli, wife of Dr. and Mrs. Signorelli’s late son, Andrew, who would later become administrator of Faith Hospital. “He was always generous and thinking of others,” she says.
After the hospital held its own during the end of the Depression and the war years, Dr. Signorelli and other community leaders formed a bond committee to finance a new hospital. In 1950, construction began on a new Faith Hospital at 3300 North Kingshighway.
The new 60-bed Faith Hospital was completed in 1952 and was known for being the first air-conditioned hospital in the area and one of only a few in the country. The hospital had several expansions through the years until it had outgrown the space it occupied in the city.
By the mid-1960s, a decision was made to build Faith Hospital West in Creve Coeur, on land where the Hezel family had farmed for more than 100 years.
Construction began on the new Faith Hospital in 1966, and the 132-bed modern medical-surgical hospital was dedicated on Jan. 5, 1969, with the first patient admitted the next day.
Dr. Signorelli took joy in the Creve Coeur location, where he tended rose bushes, fed geese and ensured the property maintained its healing environment.
Dr. Signorelli’s son, Andrew, joined him as administrator of Faith Hospital in the mid-1960s. “The hospital must look at its community and find out what forces are at work — what are its needs and what contributions can it make,” Andrew Signorelli was quoted as saying.
Faith Hospital, a non-profit, non-sectarian hospital, grew to have 300 doctors on staff. As demands grew, so did the hospital. By 1972, the Medic Center was completed. This professional office building allowed physicians to have modern office space and easy access to the hospital.
In addition to a hospital, the Signorelli family recognized a need for a high-quality daycare for employees and the community. In the early 1970s, they opened the Hope Montessori and Day Care Academy on Mason Road.
Eventually, the family would open Hope Montessori Academy for pre-school and Andrews Academy, serving children from pre-school through elementary grades. They now operate 16 schools in Missouri and Colorado.
By 1989, an agreement was reached by the former Barnes Hospital to purchase Faith Hospital. It would eventually become known as Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital, after becoming a part of BJC HealthCare and an extension of Barnes-Jewish Hospital.
The hospital continues to serve the community providing specialized care by clinicians and world-class physicians from Washington University, BJC Medical Group and private practice.
See more images and read more about the history of Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital.
Find more information on working at Barnes-Jewish West County Hospital or giving back to the community through our volunteer program.
Special thanks to the Signorelli family for providing historical photos, facts and documents.